As most of you know, the governor has lifted requirements regarding masks and occupancy limits effective Wednesday, March 10. We've devoted a considerable amount of time to consideration of how to move forward. This is unfortunately a highly contentious issue and no solution will please everyone.
When we reopened in April of last year with all the CDC and state-recommended protocols in place, we nevertheless received half a dozen emails from individuals claiming we don't care about our staff or the community and they'd never patronize us again. Since then, we've had to deal with shoppers who refuse to wear a mask and complaints that we're not doing enough. It's a no-win situation. We are committed first to protecting the safety and health of our staff and customers but also have to be mindful of other considerations.
The early days of this virus provided a lot of unknowns and a "shotgun" approach was understandable. Wearing a mask properly is known to help slow the spread but now that treatments are so much more effective and vaccinations increasing, many people would like to move forward. Since we individually can distance and wear an N95 or KN95 mask and a face shield that would make catching the virus from someone else highly unlikely, many people would like for the burden to shift to the individual rather than forcing everyone else to wear one. Still, there is a certain amount of consideration of the feelings of others who are still worried.
We have to consider our individual circumstances. It is challenging if not impossible to find guidelines that are scalable to any specific situation. Obviously we would like to allow as many people in the store as wish to shop/sell with us. We are not a theater or a church, where people who don't live with each other sit shoulder-to-shoulder for extended periods of time. We are also not a grocery store where shopping involves moving quickly and grabbing something then moving on, nor a Home Depot with wide aisles where shoppers are unlikely to be next to anyone for more than a few seconds.
In retail shopping such as ours, people often stand in one place to look through items. We have some areas such as the fitting rooms that are more restricted and people are in them for a longer period of time.
We also have a lot of possible travel coming for people on Spring Break. Some will be likely be on a plane or with friends. These are all things that we have to consider.
As such, we feel we need to err on the side of caution. We will continue requiring masks for staff, shoppers and vendors through the end of March in order to accommodate everyone in our space and will reevaluate at that time. We respectfully ask that if you wish to enter the store, please be considerate of our staff and other shoppers. If you are unable or unwilling to wear a mask, we will arrange private shopping hours, delivery or curbside for you.
Thanks everyone for working with us and understanding during this very challenging time! We look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces again very soon!
Austin San Marcos College Station